James Haskell is back in contention to play for Saints after recovering from an ankle operation and has hinted that he might like to continue at the club even if he doesn’t get an England recall.
Haskell signed for Northampton after leaving Wasps with the stated ambition of earning an England place for the World Cup in the autumn.
The larger than life personality has documented his return to fitness in his Diary of a Player Vlog which has 59,000 subscribers on YouTube. On the House of Rugby podcast he made no secret of his envy of All Black legend Richie McCaw ending his career with a successful world cup campaign.
However in the same podcast, on which his new wife Chloe also appeared, James, 33, was asked about how he thought he would cope when retirement came along.
He said: “The biggest fear is that the world moves on so quickly and you want everyone to care and to notice and they don’t. That’s why I’ve got a few bits and pieces going on.
“It is daunting that kind of thing. I am interested to see how I would feel. I get so excited being around the lads – when someone comes in and they are wearing the wrong shoes or they have had a terrible haircut and someone gives them a nickname – this is why I love rugby.”
When asked failure to make the World Cup squad would see him quit the game he said he wasn’t tempted by moving to France and taking a big pay cheque to “get filled in” by French club forwards.
But he added: “I would like to keep playing. I’d love to stay at Saints. I dont think I would stop.”
Chloe, who has her own health and fitness publishing career, is level headed about the possibilities.
She said: “I am of the opinion he won’t get picked for the Six Nations. That gives him a window of opportunity before the world cup.”
James said: “We have had some good conversations about it. Chloe has been matter of fact about it – you do know it is going to end. I have been fighting back from injuries, driving to London once a week seeing physios, seeing nutritionists, most days in pain doing all this stuff trying to get back on the field and play. Chloe has been like: you do know it is going to end.”
England coach Eddie Jones has announced a squad for the Ireland game and has pointedly said it is not a squad for the whole Six Nations. With a clutch of talented back row options available James is likely to need a stellar run for Saints to make his case for an international call up and so probably is out of luck for the coming competition.
However he is a British Lion with a string of rugby honours to his name and despite his apparently light-hearted approach to life brings a wealth of experience to any set-up he is involved with. When it comes to him earning more caps for his country, stranger things have been known.
Saints coach Chris Boyd said yesterday: “James actually could have played last week, but we thought another another week of rehab for him post his ankle operation was a good idea. So many medical people told us anyway, but he is certainly in consideration for selection this week.”
Saints take on Leicester in the Premiership Rugby Cup on Saturday at Franklin’s Gardens. Kick-off is 3pm.
Tickets for the game, which is not televised, are available here